NAIROBI– American flower buyers were present for the first time in this year’s International Flower Trade Expo (IFTEX) held here to look at opportunities which will open up with the launch of direct flights from Kenya to United States later this year.

IFTEX seeks to connect international buyers with local flower growers and this years expo held here last week attracted some 6,000 delegates drawn from more than 60 countries which Kenya exports flowers to.

Kenya Flower Council chief executive officer Clement Tulezi noted that Kenya is Africa’s top exporter of cut flowers. We are still the number one exporter of cut flowers from in Africa followed by Ethiopia. Worldwide we are number three, said Tulezi.

In 2017 Kenya exported 160,000 tonnes of flowers which generated export revenues of more than 82 billion Kenyan shillings (about 815 million US dollars).

Kenya Flower Council Chairperson Richard Fox said Kenya was actively engaged in expanding its markets to China, Russia, the United States and Australia. However, the sector faced challenges like duties and non-tariff barriers which hindered healthy competition with competitors, he said, adding that Kenyan stakeholders’ plan was to work with the country’s diplomatic missions in these markets to remove the duties.

We would want to work closely with our missions in these markets abroad to remove duties and other non-tariff trade barriers so that Kenya can trade on equal terms with our competitors.

During the expo, the exhibitors displayed a wide range of products, which included products used to nurture and care for flowers. Flowers and horticultural produce from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda were on display.

This year’s expo also marked the introduction of the Fresh Produce Exhibition, which brings together local growers of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices and international buyers.